Here follows an excerpt from a coming novel with the working title “Common man” which is a novel about a journalist who sets out to come up with an alternative form of world governance. The novel is a product of imagestreaming, a technique of invention and creativity developed in the 80s by Dr. Win Wenger. For more information about imagestreaming, and about other imagestreamed novels and stories, visit this link. If you’d like to be kept up to date as new chapters get published, sign up using the form in the right-hand column. More chapters are here.
Before I asked to return to the centre of global Commons governance I sat down to take stock. My last visit gave me sense of foreboding that something was wrong.
Two things stuck with me: The first was the concept of the world as a library of molecules. Organisations check the molecules out, use them to provide essential services and then put them back. This is a basic commons pattern – originally villager grazed their animals on the common land, all sharing and managing the resource equally. Today, some neighbourhoods have developed tool libraries with things like drills, lawnmowers, snowblowers etc. To extend the concept to molecules feels right.
The other thing that is with me is the idea emerging of moral direction where decisions are rooted in the legacy of the past, looking forward to providing a legacy for coming generations taking into account the limited choices ahead which are predicated by the current situation.
In terms of using the imagestream technique I had a feeling I have been too cavalier with the insights. There is so much theory to learn about governance and I have hardly the first clue; I maybe should have done more homework on the verification side.
I was floundering. How did it all hang together? Law, policy, how are decisions enacted? And what about sovereignty? In my request I’d asked to get some gaps filled in. Anyway, it probably explains the brusque reception I got when I arrived at the terminus in my Imagestream.
“You really don’t get it do you?” said the facilitator as he came up to me.
“Obviously not but I am open to try and understand least.”
“Let’s go through this one more time.” He said.
He started explaining that if I had written the notes up, I would have realized something. Now I come back and will not be seeing anything particularly new.
I can’t really get to scold myself for not doing the homework on what Federalism is. It’s probably because I don’t like the EU – a misuse in my opinion of a state running states – that I have recoiled from looking into what a federal approach to governance actually is. And of course I don’t live in the US where everything is “the Feds” here “Federal Reserve” there. The connection between economics and federal government eludes me and I have ignored it.
Shaking his head almost in disbelief, I hear the facilitator say;
“Now you have convinced me, you REALLY don’t get it.”
We go through the glass doors to the private jet waiting on the tarmac.
“You are late,” says the pilot.
Again another signal that I interpret to mean if I had done my homework I would have got the impetus to come back earlier.
We take off, I sit in silence – we both do – I’m not sure if I am sulking or just worn out.
Mustapha greets us on landing.
“Good to see you I; need positive people around me,” I say glancing furtively at the facilitator.
Mustapha smiles politely.
We all three pause on the steps of the centre.
“Ok I am ready, brief me.” I say.
I get another talking to.
“Look: we are putting energy into you and we want something out of it.”
“OK.OK,” I say: “I will spread the knowledge. Write articles, post blogs. I will spread what I have learned.”
“And you really have to understand how Federal works.”
“I will look it up.”
“You had better.”
You need to learn more. They both say in different ways.
Mustapha explains that they think the best thing for me is to go to one of the university classes. The center provides training for a wide range of functions, including facilitator training.
We walk through the entrance and to the right they guide me into a lecture hall
I sit with them both at the back, the lecturer who is just about to start, nods at my hosts.
“I like hearing this stuff,” says Mustapha.
On the whiteboard, the lecturer draws the number 148.
“This is the Dunbar number and the backbone of all we do here.”
Fortunately for me I am familiar with the Dunbar number. Anthropologist Dunbar, studying chimp brain sizes and sizes of their communities came up with the idea. There is a maximum number of people -148 – with whom we can maintain stable social relationships. In these an individual knows who each person is and how each person relates to every other person.
The lecturer explains that you can have 148 countries in the commons government, each with maximum 148 counties, each with maximum 148 municipalities each with maximum 148 voting districts and a voting district is maximum 148 voters.
This is why the representatives can have a good understanding of whom they represent. And at global level they are only 4 degrees, or levels, away from each human on the planet.
“You need to float that NOW! “ whispers the facilitator, Mustapha agrees with him.
“Between two countries – issues are bilateral. Between three – trilateral and between all unilateral.”
The lecturer turns to the audience and asks; “What things are Global and need to be put into this system we are developing?”
The answers come:
- Rules of war
- Disease and health
- Systems of access
- Movement of goods
- Monetary system at global level
- Technology, technological standards. Trade.
The lecturer nods and talks about the center’s history.
When the orginators came together they realized that they needed to develop some basic rules. The rules are there to smooth the way for our moral purpose. If we understand the moral purpose the forefathers’ legacy and duty to offspring of coming generations we can understand from these what is relevant.
The aim was for something that felt reasonable and rational.
“People realized that humanity had got into a difficult situation with allowing organisations to misuse as their own private property that which was really no-one and everyone’s responsibility. They had to find a way out.”
“They were looking to find something to start with and to lay down a framework that was open to development and that would spawn research.”
“Research which is connected to Universities. Connected to all interest groups.”
The lecturer wants us to see some things are clear and obvious at the start, others are not until you work with this, clarity only comes from research.
The piecemeal approach carries on and develops over time. They found a place to start based on the idea that you cannot improve something that does not exist.
The lecturer carried on, “We put it together in a way so that it could develop as we went on.
This is important because if it was not good enough in the beginning it would fail but if it was too overdone it might not be appropriate for the task, so it needed to be flexible enough to take on what grew out of experience.
And concrete enough to be actionable and decisionable.”
I understood from this that sovereignty of nations needed to be respected throughout the whole process. It seemed delicate. Not impossible, though.
Talking about the origination of the whole thing, the lecturer explained how initiative started with an inventory of what we can only describe a s the global commons for the common good.
They started by acknowledging all the positive things that had been done, asking for insights from world leaders and from that recorded from history.
Human rights was a huge step forward and makes a good common base.
Mathematics was obviously a good one too – as it is
- and useful
State boundaries were a starting point but more from the science of cartography, as well as other geographic conventions.
Other conventions, like naming plants and plant breeding, sharing species came up.
“You will agree,” said the lecturer, “that when you look at it like this you see this legacy, It’s a lot.”
“Where is that body of common good stored?” Asks a student.
The knowledge is listed in one book, which points to other relevant and accepted books.
The book is updated regularly and builds up. It is like a global academy of knowledge. A common repository.
There is one library in every country representing the combined human legacy.
Indeed, this common knowledge, like mathematics, engineering standards, metrics etc. is a common language. And much of our wisdom is in our language. Our language carries our knowledge and is developing all the time.
The body of knowledge is therefore globally accepted, always reviewable, and deemed as useful for looking after the global commons.
I am bowled over… saying “WOW! That is something, huge and really hard to take in.”
The facilitator nods.
“We’ve got your back. Don’t worry “
We go out from the lecture.
“I have a better idea now,” I say.
“You still have NO idea,” says the facilitator.
He looks at me and gives me a lecture on making the most of imagestreams:
There is a lot you learn from an imagestream, you need to write up the transcript first. You will miss it if you don’t write it up. Recording is good. But the imagestream is just the beginning: you have to enrich the stream with diagrams, homework, look things up. Make it rich. When you make the insights of the imagestream part of your own experience you will be ready to come back. You have to put everything in to practice. Grab your own moral understanding. You have to work with it.
I thank the facilitator for being straight with me and turn to leave.
“You are doing ok,” says Mustapha. “We are only pulling your leg.”